ARRL

ARRL Letter

 

***************
The ARRL Letter
Vol. 20, No. 49
December 14, 2001
***************

IN THIS EDITION:

* +FCC still singing the postal blues
* +Ham radio enforcement under Riley Hollingsworth enters fourth year
* +ARISS Newfoundland contact commemorates Marconi feat
* +Ham-sailor is back home
* +Petition calls for electromagnetic pulse shielding
* +Ham expertise restores police and fire dispatching
* +ARRL Instructor, Recruiter, Education award nominations open
*  Solar Update
*  IN BRIEF: 
     This weekend on the radio
     Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course December/January
registration
     Christmas City special event set
     Tune up the radio and turn on the kids
     ARRL reminds FCC of "legacy" amateur microwave allocation
     FCC nixes FRS calling channel proposal
     Ohio ham sentenced in police radio jamming case
     Question Pool Committee cuts questionable questions
     DC-area repeater group waives dues for members on active duty

+Available on ARRL Audio News

===========================================================

==>FCC STILL SINGING THE POSTAL BLUES

E-mail it or fax it, but--at least for now--if you've got something to send
to the FCC, don't put it in the mail if you expect the FCC to receive it
anytime soon. The FCC said this week that, because of the mail situation, it
still is not processing Amateur Radio vanity call sign applications--even
those filed electronically--because hard copy and electronic vanity
applications get equal processing priority.

In the aftermath of the recent anthrax incidents involving the mails, the
FCC began diverting mail destined for Gettysburg and for its Washington, DC,
Headquarters to special-handling facilities. The Commission likely will not
resume vanity processing until the mail situation is untangled. 

The FCC has processed vanity applications received through October 14.
Vanity applications received after that still are on hold, but vanity fees
paid by credit card for electronic filings are being charged to holders'
accounts.

FCC staff members in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania--the office that handles
vanity processing and issues all Amateur Radio licenses--say they're working
on a two-week mail backlog. In mid-November, the Gettysburg office began
diverting mail addressed to its 1270 Fairfield Road location to another site
in town for special handling. But, staffers say, some earlier mail to
Gettysburg was diverted to FCC Headquarters for decontamination with other
federal mail and is yet to be returned.

Since October 19, the FCC has been urging all of its customers to avoid
using the mails to conduct business with the agency and to use electronic
means to file comments or applications. The FCC has been acting on amateur
renewals and administrative updates filed on-line via the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau's Universal Licensing System
<<http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/>. As of December 3, all applicants must
include an FCC Registration Number (FRN) when filing.

Mail sent to FCC Headquarters has been diverted to a warehouse facility in
Capitol Heights, Maryland, since late October. The FCC has indicated that it
continues to track the date of receipt for each piece of mail.

An FCC spokesperson in Washington has assured that no mail has been
destroyed and that the Commission probably would permit additional time to
include any comments filed on paper in a proceeding that might be caught in
the special-handling and decontamination process. The FCC staff member
invited those who had filed paper comments in a proceeding to file their
comments again electronically, using the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing
System (ECFS) <http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html>. 

The FCC said the US Postal Service will continue to accept and will divert
all mail addressed to 1270 Fairfield Road, Gettysburg--the office's physical
location--to the off-site mailroom. The Gettysburg office now only accepts
hand and courier deliveries at the rear entrance of 35 York Street,
Gettysburg.

==>"HOLLINGSWORTH ERA" OF AMATEUR ENFORCEMENT ENTERS FOURTH YEAR

FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth,
K4ZDH, this week praised the overall level of Amateur Radio compliance with
FCC rules as "outstanding." His assessment came as the current era of
Amateur Radio enforcement under his guidance and direction enters its fourth
year.

"The vast majority of operators are proud of the service and want to
contribute to it and want to pass on the great legacy that it has become,"
Hollingsworth said in a statement marking the occasion. "May it last a
thousand years!"

An amateur for 41 years, Hollingsworth also declared his pride in the
Amateur Service. "I saw the energy and compassion and excellent operating of
amateurs at the Pentagon and World Trade Center after September 11," he
said. "I've seen and heard it at the National Hurricane Center in
Miami--home of W4EHW--and in countless meetings with individual amateurs and
at amateur events all over the United States."

Hollingsworth said US hams "have a lot to be proud of," and he urged them to
"participate in Amateur Radio with enthusiasm, celebrate it, enjoy it and
share it, because you have made it an incredible national resource and the
only truly fail-safe communication service on the planet Earth."

Hollingsworth again reminded amateurs to be acutely aware of the image they
present to anyone who might be listening. "I hear far too many operators who
don't realize what a bad reflection they are on American amateur operators,"
he said.

Now nationally recognized and respected within the amateur community,
Hollingsworth was relatively unknown outside the FCC bureaucracy when he
volunteered to take on the challenge of amateur enforcement in 1998. For
several years prior, the FCC had all but abandoned amateur enforcement.
Hollingsworth noted that it was not until another plea went out from the
ARRL to the FCC in the summer of 1998 that the FCC responded. The agency
transferred Amateur Service enforcement from the Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau to what was then called the Compliance and Information Bureau. The
FCC subsequently created the Enforcement Bureau to handle agency-wide
enforcement activities.

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, lauded Hollingsworth as "a great gift" to
the amateur community and expressed appreciation on behalf of the League for
what he's been able to accomplish during his tenure. "Over the past three
years, Mr. Hollingsworth has breathed new validity and vitality into the
enforcement of Amateur Radio," Haynie said. "His strong support for the
amateur community as a whole and the ARRL's initiatives, has been
unwavering."

Haynie said that Hollingsworth--guided by his passions for Amateur Radio and
for the law--"has given hams across the nation reason to pause, think,
promote and yes, even laugh about ourselves."

Hollingsworth's statement is available on the ARRL Web site
<http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2001/12/12/1/>.

==>NEWFOUNDLAND STUDENTS HONOR MARCONI ANNIVERSARY WITH ISS CONTACT

One hundred years ago in Newfoundland, Guglielmo Marconi used a kite to
hoist his receiving antenna aloft to hear the first radio signal to ever
span the Atlantic--the simple Morse letter "S." Marconi likely would have
been blown away with astonishment if he could have seen youngsters--on the
centennial of his epochal accomplishment--sitting where he once sat and
carrying on a radio conversation with someone in an orbiting space vehicle.

The successful December 12 Amateur Radio on the International Space Station
(ARISS) contact between special event station VO1S on Signal Hill,
Newfoundland, and astronaut Frank Culbertson, KD5OPQ, operating NA1SS in
space was just one of the events to celebrate Marconi's transatlantic
reception in 1901. During the contact, 10 students got to quiz Culbertson
about life in space. The ninth-graders were winners of a crystal-set
building competition associated with the centennial observance. Looking on
were another 125 students and 40 adults, including members of the media.

"The question that seemed to get the most response from the audience was
from Chris Mong, age 13, who asked 'If you sneeze on the space station, does
the force of the sneeze propel you backwards?'," said ARISS mentor Charlie
Sufana, AJ9N. "Frank said 'it can'." 

Fourteen-year-old Ashley Evans, wanted to know how the crew members brush
their teeth in space. "The only difference between brushing your teeth in
space and on the ground is that most people end up swallowing the
toothpaste, since we don't have a sink with running water to get rid of it
in," Culbertson said.

Melissa Doody, age 15, was curious if the crew could see Newfoundland from
the ISS. "Absolutely, we can certainly see you, and I've seen you many times
since I've been up here," Culbertson replied. "Unfortunately, the ham radio
is not located near a window, so I can't see you right now, but it's a
beautiful part of the country."

The ARISS contact--only the third to involve Canadian students--was arranged
with the assistance of Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Society of Newfoundland Radio
Amateurs. The commemorative event marked the first time an ARISS school
contact was scheduled while a shuttle was docked with the ISS. The ground
team reported later that the signal from NA1SS was "very weak and marginal,"
and contact between the ISS and the ground held up only for about six
minutes, compared to the typical ten. There was speculation that the shuttle
Endeavour may have blocked signals and led to the shorter-than-usual contact
window.

Graham Dillabough, VE6KJ/VO1DZA, served as control op. Sufana congratulated
Dillabough and his teammates for battling high winds--gusting at 110 km (68
miles) per hour--and even some snow to erect the antennas necessary for the
contact. The high winds kept the visitors from atop Signal Hill itself; gear
for the ARISS contact was set up in the visitors' center instead.

Culbertson, who's completing a four-month tour of duty aboard the ISS, turns
over the reins this week to Expedition 4 crew commander Yuri Onufrienko,
RK3DUO. The other Expedition 4 crew members are fight engineers Dan Bursch,
KD5PNU, and Carl Walz, KC5TIE. The Expedition 3 crew has been aboard the ISS
since August.

==>HAM-SAILOR COMPLETES "THE BIG ROUND TRIP"

David Clark, KB6TAM--the oldest person to sail solo around the
world--arrived back in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, December 7 to a huge
welcome. He'd been on the high seas for two years.

"They made a big deal out of it," said Chuck Baer, W4ROA, an ARRL Assistant
Southeastern Division Director who followed Clark's journey and was on hand
for the Florida homecoming. "The Guinness Book of World Records people were
there to declare it official." He said Clark, 77, was in high spirits and
glad to be back on solid ground.

Although Clark technically had completed his circumnavigation when he
arrived back in the Bahamas in November, he had said he would not consider
his journey complete until he'd returned to the port from which he'd
departed two years earlier. Originally intending to arrive back in Florida
in time for his 77th birthday last May 17, Clark decided instead to sit out
much of the Atlantic hurricane season in Trinidad.

In Fort Lauderdale, Clark was reunited with his wife, Lynda, and other
family members whom he had not seen since setting sail in 1999. Baer said a
crowd of around 300 people--including news media--was on hand, and Clark's
arrival was heralded by a plume of water from a Fort Lauderdale fireboat. A
local high school band and a Navy ROTC color guard added to the pomp and
circumstance.

Clark almost lost his life a year ago when his original sailboat, the Mollie
Milar, sank off the coast of South Africa. Clark bought another sailboat--a
smaller one that he named Mickey after his canine sailing companion lost in
the rescue effort--and he resumed his quest in April 2001.

Clark used Amateur Radio throughout his two-year odyssey to keep in touch
with his family. Having the radio aboard also may have saved his life. When
his boat began sinking off South Africa, Clark put out a distress call on
ham radio that was relayed to maritime authorities. The crew of a commercial
vessel plucked him out of the water to safety.

Clark in part supported his adventure with corporate sponsorship, but he
funded much of the trip through Social Security earnings and occasional
clarinet gigs. Hams along the way also provided financial assistance.

==>EMP SHIELDING PROPOSAL COULD INCLUDE AMATEUR RADIO GEAR

A petition recently put on public notice by the FCC would require that all
electronic equipment subject to the Commission's jurisdiction be shielded
against electromagnetic pulse (EMP) damage. The proposal, as drafted, would
apply to both new and existing equipment that falls within its scope. If the
petitioners have their way, that would include Amateur Radio equipment.

EMP--a high-voltage wave of electromagnetic energy--already is known to be a
side effect of a thermonuclear explosion. But petitioners Don Schellhardt
and Nick Leggett, N3NL, claim that terrorists could initiate an EMP using
other technology--so-called "E bombs"--developed by the US military but, as
yet, untested on a major scale.

The petitioners propose phasing in rules to require shielding--or
"hardening"--to a basic performance standard that would permit "effective,
uninterrupted functioning" of covered equipment following an EMP of 100,000
V per meter. They say that's twice the estimated EMP from a single
high-altitude nuclear explosion. Schellhardt and Leggett say the best
defense against EMP is copper shielding.

Amateur Radio is mentioned only once in the Schellhardt-Leggett petition,
and Leggett told the ARRL that they kept their proposed rules for Amateur
Radio equipment "rather vague" for now. He said their primary intention is
to promote serious discussion on the EMP issue--especially in the wake of
the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"We do lean towards mandatory requirements for some type of EMP protection
for commercially produced amateur radio equipment," Leggett said. "We would
both very much like to see constructive progress in the protection of
amateur radio equipment from EMP events and attacks."

Schellhardt and Leggett addressed the Amateur Radio issue more directly in
reply to comments filed on their petition by REC Networks. "How much
emergency communication is amateur radio going to provide if the radio sets
are disabled by intense EMP pulses?" they asked rhetorically. "Our opinion
is that amateur radio earns its frequencies by its significant emergency
communications and technical self-training activities. EMP shielding fits
naturally into this public service orientation."

The FCC has designated the petition as RM-10330. Although the comment
deadline officially ends December 14, late comments might be accepted in
light of the FCC's mail system delays. Interested parties may comment using
the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)
<http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html>.

The ARRL has not commented on the Schellhardt-Leggett proposal.

==>AMATEURS RESTORE CITY'S POLICE, FIRE DISPATCHING

Volunteers from the Tulsa Amateur Radio Club helped to restore police and
fire dispatching service in Collinsville, Oklahoma, after flames destroyed
the city's radio gear and disrupted 911 service December 1. The
early-morning fire badly damaged the 88-year-old Collinsville City Hall,
which housed the community's police and fire departments and other offices.

"The city's communication system was functioning, but 911 calls were
re-routed to a nearby city, because all the dispatch equipment was lost in
the fire," said Oklahoma ARRL Public Information Coordinator Mark Conklin,
N7XYO. Even the antenna was lost. As a result, the city had to find a
temporary home for police and fire dispatch.

Collinsville, a community of some 4000 people, is located about 12 miles
north of Tulsa.

Conklin says Collinsville arranged to set up its dispatching center in the
Collinsville Rural fire station.

Area amateurs alerted to the devastating fire quickly responded to help, and
Tim Diehl, KB5ZVC, notified ARRL Oklahoma Section Manager Charlie Calhoun,
K5TTT. TARC Public Service Liaison Dan Lamoreaux, WG5Z, rounded up Gregg
Wonderly, W5GGW, Dave Smith, KD5OIJ, and Tom Roininen, KB5HMZ, as additional
volunteers. The volunteers brought the club's portable repeater system,
which had been built using commercial radio equipment converted for amateur
use.

Conklin says the amateurs reprogrammed the repeater for the police and fire
departments to use as an emergency dispatch radio. "By 9 o'clock that
evening all systems were totally operational and police and fire dispatching
was being handled though the club's loaned radio equipment," Conklin said.

Established in 1924, the Tulsa Amateur Radio Club is the state's oldest ham
radio club. It operates the W5IAS linked repeater system and its members are
active in public service.--Mark Conklin, N7XYO/TARC

==>NOMINATIONS SOUGHT FOR ARRL INSTRUCTOR, RECRUITER, EDUCATOR AWARDS

Nominations close January 31 for ARRL awards that recognize excellence in
teaching Amateur Radio classes, using Amateur Radio in the classroom, and
recruiting others to Amateur Radio. 

The ARRL Herb S. Brier Instructor of the Year Award goes each year to a
volunteer Amateur Radio instructor. The ARRL Professional Educator of the
Year award goes to a professional teacher who has incorporated Amateur Radio
into his or her class curriculum. The ARRL Professional Instructor of the
Year award is presented to a paid, non-state certified ham radio instructor,
such as those teaching classes offered through adult education programs. The
ARRL Excellence in Recruiting Award goes to a ham who exemplifies
outstanding recruiting enthusiasm and technique and has gone the extra mile
to introduce others to Amateur Radio. 

All winners receive engraved plaques. Complete information and nomination
forms are available on the ARRL Web site, <http://www.arrl.org/ead/award/>.
Completed forms go to section managers before January 31, 2002. For more
information, contact Jean Wolfgang, WB3IOS, jwolfgang@arrl.org.

==>SOLAR UPDATE

Solar soothsayer Tad Cook, K7VVV, Seattle, Washington, reports: This has
been another relatively quiet week with little in the way of geomagnetic
upset. Planetary A indices were in the single digits through Tuesday. On
Wednesday the planetary K index went to five, which is quite high, but then
quieted back down.

A powerful solar flare erupted Tuesday, but the resulting coronal mass
ejection is not Earth-directed. It could cause an upset starting Friday, so
the predicted planetary A index for Friday through Monday is 15, 20, 25 and
10.

Average sunspot numbers dropped this week by more than 16 points, and
average solar flux was down by almost 3 points. Solar flux is expected to
decline, with Friday through Monday values around 220, 220, 210 and 200, and
it should reach a short term minimum around December 22-23.

Geomagnetic disturbances could cause problems for the ARRL 10-Meter Contest
this weekend, but the effect is difficult to gauge at this point.

Sunspot numbers for December 6 through 12 were 226, 200, 218, 225, 224, 154
and 183, with a mean of 204.3. The 10.7-cm flux was 246.7, 225.9, 220.5,
224.2, 219, 220.6 and 236.7, with a mean of 227.7. Estimated planetary A
indices were 8, 5, 5, 3, 4, 4 and 12 with a mean of 5.9.

__________________________________

==>IN BRIEF:

* This weekend on the radio:  The ARRL 10-Meter Contest, the OK DX RTTY
Contest, the 28 MHz SWL Contest, the Croatian CW Contest, and the Great
Colorado Snowshoe Run are the weekend of December 15-16. JUST AHEAD: The AGB
Party Contest is December 21, the DARC Christmas Contest is December 26 and
the RAC Winter Contest (CW/SSB), the Stew Perry Topband Challenge (CW) and
the Original QRP Contest (CW) are the weekend of are the weekend of December
29-30. Straight Key Night is January 1, 2002 UTC. See the ARRL Contest
Branch page, http://www.arrl.org/contests/ and
http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/weeklycont.html for more info.

* Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Course December/January
registration: Seats remain available for the Amateur Radio Emergency
Communications Level I (EC-001) on-line class that opened December 10.
Registration for the Level II (EC-002) class opens Monday, December 17. To
register, visit the ARRL Course Registration Page
<https://www.arrl.org/forms/cce/> after 4 PM Eastern Time. Registration will
remain open until all seats are filled. Beginning in January 2002,
registration for the Level I class will open on the first Monday, January 7;
registration for Level II will open on the second Monday, January 14; and
registration for Level III (EC-003) will open on the third Monday, January
21. Courses must be completed in order, starting with Level I. To learn
more, visit the ARRL Certification and Continuing Education Web page
<http://www.arrl.org/cce> and the C-CE Links found there. For more
information, contact Certification and Continuing Education Coordinator Dan
Miller, K3UFG, cce@arrl.org.

* Christmas City special event set: The Christmas City and Delaware-Lehigh
Amateur Radio clubs will sponsor the traditional WX3MAS special event
operation from the twin Christmas Cities of Bethlehem and Nazareth,
Pennsylvania, from 1200 UTC December 15 to 2400 UTC December 16. Operation
will be on or about 3.979, 7.270, 14.265, 21.365 and 28.465 MHz, SSB. For a
certificate, QSL to CCARC/DLARC WX3MAS, Greystone Bldg, Gracedale Complex,
RR 8, Nazareth, PA 18064-9211.

* Tune up the radio and turn on the kids: Are you ready? Here comes Kid's
Day! On Saturday, January 5, sit down at your radio, tune it up, then share
it with the younger generation. Let them talk about Pokemon, school, games,
Harry Potter, computers, friends and other kid stuff, while you manage the
technical aspects and just watch and listen for a change. Kid's Day is
always lots of fun for all ages, and it's a terrific opportunity for
parents, clubs and individual amateurs to show youngsters what great fun ham
radio can be. For more information about Kid's Day, visit the Kid's Day
Rules page on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/ead/kd-rules.html>. 

* ARRL reminds FCC of "legacy" amateur microwave allocation: The ARRL has
reminded the FCC that the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services have
primary access to the 75.5 to 76.0 GHz band--a so-called "legacy"
allocation--until 2006. Loea Communications Corporation filed a Petition for
Rule Making in September seeking to establish Part 101 licensing and service
rules for fixed, point-to-point operation in that part of the spectrum using
narrow beamwidth antennas. In reply comments in the proceeding (RM-10288),
ARRL noted that neither the petitioner nor any commenters had mentioned the
amateur allocation, due to phase out as a result of a shift in amateur
allocations at WRC-2000. Part 97 Amateur Service rules include full access
to the band 75.5 to 76 GHz and 77 to 81 GHz, conditioned on protecting, and
the absence of interference protection from, government and non-government
radiolocation. The ARRL said it had no objection to Loea's petition but
wanted the FCC to note in any rules it adopts that the Amateur Service is
entitled to operate at 75.5 to 76 GHz on a primary basis until 2006.

* FCC nixes FRS calling channel proposal: The FCC has turned down a petition
to establish Family Radio Service channel 1 (462.5625 MHz) as a national
calling channel. The petition was filed by Alan Dixon, N3HOE, and Robert K.
Leef, KB6DON. In a six-page Order, the FCC December 5, pointed out--among
other things--that FRS Rule 3 already requires FRS users to give priority to
emergency communications concerning the immediate safety of life or the
immediate protection of property on any of the 14 authorized FRS channels.
"The current rules, therefore, already provide that emergency communications
have priority over ordinary communications," Kathleen O'Brien Ham, deputy
chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, wrote on behalf of the
Commission. The FCC Order said a national calling channel was not necessary,
given that FRS is intended only for short-range communication over distances
of a half mile or less. The Order also said it did not want to burden the
FRS with additional technical or operational rules. According to the FCC
Order, the petition also called on the FCC to adopt requirements for
manufacturers to include certain additional features in FRS units, but Dixon
said that's an incorrect characterization. "At no point would the petition
require manufacturers to include any additional features into FRS units," he
told ARRL.--FCC

* Ohio ham sentenced in police radio jamming case: Kenneth Kelly, WT2FBI,
has been sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty of
attempted disrupting public service--a fifth-degree felony in Ohio. FCC
Special Counsel for Amateur Radio Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth says Kelly
did not appear by October 30 for requested retesting, and his license will
be canceled. Kelly had been indicted on a felony charge of disrupting public
service by allegedly jamming and talking on the Middletown, Ohio, police
radio system in July. He had been held in the Butler County jail pending
sentencing. The assistance of members of the Dial Radio Club--who did some
direction finding and also taped Kelly's legal transmissions on 2 meters for
comparison with the voice showing up on the police frequencies--was
instrumental in solving this case.--Ernie Howard, W8EH 

* Question Pool Committee cuts questionable questions: The National
Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators' Question Pool Committee has
stricken three questions from the new Element 4 Amateur Extra class question
pool. The new Element 4 question pool was released to the public November 30
and must be used as the basis for all Element 4 examinations starting July
1, 2002. Questions deleted were E2E09, E2E10 and E6B17. Subsequent questions
in each subelement of the pool will not be renumbered. "These three
questions are no longer part of the question pool and should not be
administered as part of any examination," a QPC announcement said.

* DC-area repeater group waives dues for members on active duty: The Green
Mountain Repeater Association--which operates the 146.610 and 146.880
repeaters in the Washington, DC, area--has approved a motion to waive
renewal dues for members who are on active military duty. "It is the least
we can do for our military members," said GMRA President Paul Freirich,
W3HFA. The waiver will remain in affect as long as the member is on active
duty. GMRA member and "founding father" Murray Green, K3BEQ, urged other
clubs across the nation to "follow suit as a gesture of support to Amateur
Radio operators serving our nation."

=========================================================== 
The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American
Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St,
Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259;
http://www.arrl.org. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President

The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest
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The ARRL Letter offers a weekly summary of essential news of interest to active amateurs that is available in advance of publication in QST, our official journal. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise and readable.

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